SAMMY DAVIS JR. ESTATE HEIRS UNITE TO PRODUCE BIOPIC WITH
LIONEL RICHIE, LORENZO di BONAVENTURA AND MIKE MENCHEL
Los Angeles, CA – January 18, 2017 – For the first time ever, all heirs to the estate of the legendary multifaceted entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. have united. Davis Jr.’s heirs’ collaboration follows an April 2016 court order fully and finally resolving all of the 27 years of disputes over Sammy Davis Jr.’s intellectual property.
The heirs have joined critically acclaimed author Burt Boyar and granted a team led by Lionel Richie, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mike Menchel rights to produce the story based on Davis Jr.’s life and legacy. Sammy Davis Jr., Boyar and his wife Jane wrote the definitive memoir on Davis Jr.’s life, “Yes I Can.”
As a producer on the project and one of Davis Jr.’s mentees, Richie will have an integral role in making Davis Jr.’s story come to life. “It’s an honor for me to bring the life of one of my idols and friend to the screen. I’m so grateful to be working closely with the Davis family on this and couldn’t be happier to be moving forward on this passion project,” he said. Producer di Bonaventura added, “Sammy’s life story is an unparalleled tale of what can be achieved with unbridled perseverance and talent. It is at its essence a uniquely American story of one man’s ability to use his talents to reach the pinnacle of his profession.”
All of Davis Jr.’s heirs, his four children (Manny Davis, Mark Davis, Jeff Davis and Tracey Davis) have expressed their overwhelming excitement about the film’s upcoming production. Youngest son and estate Administrator, Manny Davis commented, “I am happy to tell the whole entire world that my family and I look forward to working with everyone to educate audiences of all ages about our father’s incredible American adventure.” Jeff Davis related, “It’s marvelous to have this movie made of him, and importantly, with good people involved.” Eldest son, Mark stated, “To have all of the family on board together for this film is tremendous. We are excited to have the greatest entertainer who ever lived to be on screen.” Davis Jr.’s daughter Tracey also commented positively on collaborating with filmmakers, “I am pleased to partner with my brothers in consolidating our father, the late Sammy Davis Jr’s business. I look forward to helping in any way I can to promote, grow and protect our father’s brand together,” she said.
About Lionel Richie
International superstar, Lionel Richie, has a discography of albums and singles that are second to none. His music is part of the fabric of pop music; in fact, Lionel Richie is one of only two songwriters in history to achieve the honor of having #1 records for nine consecutive years. With over 100 million albums sold worldwide, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, four Grammy awards and the distinction of MusiCares person of the year in 2016, the Tuskegee, Alabama native is a true music icon.
Lionel Richie is known for his mega-hits such as “Endless Love,” “Lady,” “Truly,” “All Night Long (All Night),” “Penny Lover,” “Stuck On You,” “Hello,” “Say You, Say Me,” “Dancing on the Ceiling,” and one of most important pop songs in history, “We Are The World,” written with Michael Jackson for USA for Africa. His song catalog also includes his early work with The Commodores, where he developed a groundbreaking style that defied genre categories, penning smashes such as “Three Times A Lady,” “Still,” and “Easy.”
Lionel launched his Las Vegas headlining residency show, “Lionel Richie – All the Hits,” at The AXIS at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in April 2016. In an unforgettable evening featuring his brightest and best anthems which have defined the music icon’s unparalleled career, Lionel takes fans on a spectacular musical journey, performing a variety of his seminal hits.
With his most recent All the Hits, All Night Long Tour, Lionel sold out arenas worldwide with a set list of his brightest and best anthems. In recent years Lionel also headlined Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, and Glastonbury, drawing the festival’s biggest crowd ever with over 200,000 attendees.
In 2017 Lionel will embark on the 35-city North American ALL THE HITS TOUR with very special guest Mariah Carey.
Always giving back, his charity work extends from Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center to UNICEF and The Art of Elysium.
About Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Lorenzo di Bonaventura is a prolific film producer known for the Transformers franchise. He is president of both di Bonaventura Pictures, Inc. and di Bonaventura Pictures Television.
In February 1989, Mr. di Bonaventura joined Warner Brothers as Vice President of Production. While at Warner Brothers, he was involved in over 130 productions and eventually became President of Worldwide Production. Amongst his biggest commercial and critical successes were: Falling Down (1993), A Time to Kill(1996), The Matrix (1999), Analyze This (2000), The Perfect Storm (2000), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), and Training Day (2001).
In 2002, Mr. di Bonaventura left Warner Brothers and started di Bonaventura Pictures. Since then, he has produced over 30 movies, including Constantine (2005), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), Salt (2010), RED (2010) and Deepwater Horizon (2016). Upcoming releases include Kidnap, starring Halle Berry; and Unlocked starring Noomi Rapace. di Bonaventura Pictures is currently in production on Granite Mountain, about the Prescott Arizona firefighter tragedy; the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: The Last Knight; Meg starring Jason Statham, Replicas starring Keanu Reeves, and American Assassin for CBS Films. In 2011, the company branched into television production with the formation of di Bonaventura Pictures Television. Based at Legendary Entertainment, di Bonaventura Pictures Television produces The Real O’Neals for ABC.
Mr. di Bonaventura received his undergraduate degree in Intellectual History at Harvard College and his Master of Business Administration at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He is on the Board of Directors for the American Cinematheque and is on the honorary committee of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles.
About Mike Menchel
Mike Menchel began his career as the first full time CAA mailroom employee in 1976. From trainee to agent, he represented both actors and filmmakers. In 2000, he followed his mentor Mike Ovitz to AMG, a management and production company. His actor clients included John and Jim Belushi, Sean Connery, Michael and Virginia Madsen and Robin Williams. His filmmaker clients included Oliver Stone, Alfonso Cuaron, John McTiernan and Dennis Hopper.
At the end of AMG, Menchel went on as an independent producer. “I simply didn’t want to be in the representation business any longer. I wanted to tell stories. I thought that I would utilize the relationships that I have in both the creative and executive areas to help me tell stories. It’s working out pretty well.”
Menchel’s first film was Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which he executive produced. The film stars Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara and Ben Foster.
Menchel then went on to produce One Chance for The Weinstein Company, starring James Corden and directed by David Frankel. Most currently, he and Lorenzo diBonaventura recently finished photography on Granite Mountain, the story of the 19 young Wild Land firefighters that became the elite Hotshot group who died in 2013 fighting a fire outside of Prescott, AZ. The film stars Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch, Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly and was directed by Joseph Kosinski. The film was also produced with Black Label Media and to be distributed by Lionsgate.
About Burt Boyar
On November 30, 1927, Burton Anselm Boyar was born in New York City to Benjamin and Lillian Boyar. Since Ben Boyar was employed as the general manager of Max Gordon, who was one of Broadway’s most successful producers, Burt acquired an early appreciation for the theater and its mechanics. At the age of 12, Boyar was permitted to work as a radio actor and provided the vocals for characters on comedic dramas, comic book-based programs and commercials. Simultaneously, he was attending the renowned Professional Children’s School, an institution primarily geared towards those pursuing careers in the performing arts. Although Boyar did not graduate from high school or attend college, he was incredibly adept in English composition.
After his radio stint, Burt Boyar eventually found a niche to showcase his grammatical adroitness at a New York publicity firm where he wrote gossip news and other column features. Following months of successful commentarial work, he and a colleague soon began their own publicity business which would come to represent several restaurants around the city of Manhattan, the Carlyle Hotel and Hotel El Rancho Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Beau Broadway was Burt Boyar’s solo journalism venture that became nationally syndicated via the Annenberg and Newhouse newspaper publishers. It was a daily column which presented interviews, criticisms and musings pertaining to the acclaimed New York theater. When he had contacted Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1957 in pursuit of a brief dialog session for another feature story, his inquiry was met with an invitation to dinner. That single evening meal multiplied into nightly discussions and the blossoming of a friendship that would last for the rest of the entertainer’s life. During one of their encounters, Burt Boyar agreed to write Sammy Davis, Jr.’s life story and, as a result, requested a year of absence from his Broadway column. Ultimately, however, he found that a year was not sufficient time to gather enough material for the autobiography so he chose to retire from his position. In the end, it would take six years to complete Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr., an immediate bestseller which, at one point, even became a contender for the internationally coveted Pulitzer Prize
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